“ Brand: Champion / Product Type: Blowvac „
If you have read my review of the Flymo Garden Vac you will know that such a device is essential in leafy Surrey. Sadly the Flymo proved to be a somewhat less than satisfactory solution. The second of its kind went the way of the first and was retired permanently to the local tip.
So, what to replace it? Certainly there is no end of choice. Certainly the range of prices is quite substantial. Some seem to be at such a price that you wonder if anyone would buy them. Others are so cheap that you wonder if they will last a day without falling apart.
If you read my review of the Champion rotary mower I bought to replace a somewhat less than satisfactory Qualcast cylinder mower you will know that the purchase was a success. Consequently I was inclined to look at the Champion Garden Vac as well.
The Champion brand is the house brand of FocusDIY. The range doesn't just include garden tools. It also includes workshop tools like drills. The livery is, however, common across all; red and black.
Prices are quite reasonable and certainly lower than most other more well-known brands. Quality, if the mower is anything to go by, was probably good. So, lack of any good reason not to, I bought one.
FocusDIY obviously consider their customers to be a little more adept at assembly since, unlike the Flymo, it doesn't come out of the box in working order. The main motor body is one piece, the nozzle comes in two pieces. The collection bag is separate from the frame that holds it and connects it to the blower body. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to assemble it all into a working device.
Actually, it isn't too complicated and very soon you will have it all in working order. The nozzle is, strangely, similar in design to the Flymo. There is a wide lower tube and a narrow upper tube moulded into one.
As with the Flymo, air is blown down the upper tube if you want to use the vac to blow leaves away. However, unlike the Flymo, the air is not diverted to blow back up the wide tube to induce a suction to suck leaves into the bag. With the Champion the impeller on the motor sucks air directly through the lower tube and with it the debris.
A lever on the side changes the air direction from suck to blow. After a few uses it stuck and I had to remove the nozzle in order to free it up but it wasn't a major problem, just annoying.
The impeller is hard plastic and seems capable of surviving the onslaught. So far it seems to have suffered little damage. Certainly it does a better job of mashing the leaves and the suction is far better than the Flymo ever was.
The collection bag is quite big and takes a fair amount of time to fill although by then it is getting quite heavy. The bag, when removed, does not prevent operation of the motor but, having said that, the moving parts are not easily accessible like they are on the Flymo.
The weight of the vac is supported by a strap that fits over the shoulder and clips on to the motor body. However, the clip appears to be a insubstantial and on mine has broken already. I suppose I should take it back and get it replaced but I doubt a replacement will be any stronger. I may seek an alternative solution.
So far, in use the Champion has proved to be otherwise a good choice. Now that Autumn is finally here it will get regular use. It won't take long to see if this really is good value for money. It doesn't look like I've been taken for a sucker this time.